Thursday, January 17, 2013
Muslims Demolish Church Owned Building in Egypt
By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), security forces arrived after the building was completely destroyed.
AINA said the 100 square meters social services building in the village of Fanous (130 KM southwest of Cairo) had all the necessary government permits. The building had a reception hall on the first floor and a kindergarten on the second. However, AINA said, Muslims insisted it would become a church.
According to AINA, prior to the incident a meeting had taken place between the village mayor, and Muslim and Coptic elders. It was agreed that only the first floor was to remain and the second be demolished.
AINA said Mosques in surrounding villages broadcast a message on loudspeakers to Muslims to go and help their Muslim brethren in Fanous, because Christians were "building a church."
According to rights activist Nader Shukry of Maspero Coptic Youth Organizations, nearly 5000 Muslims took part in demolishing the church property, while shouting "Allahu Akbar."
AINA reported Shukry said noone was arrested, not even the imams who called on Muslims to demolish the building.
The district of Tamia and neighboring Senousen is home to a large congregation of Islamists. Shoukry said that the Coptic Church had previously warned the security authorities of the potential of the Islamists provoking violence in this and neighboring areas.
According to AINA, a witness from Fanous said they had been working on the building site for two months. Workers were removing the wood ,which was intended for the second floor, when a Muslim man started insulting the Copts. An assault by village women followed. The
Muslim men followed with their attack saying that the whole building has to be demolished.
The witness said that the Muslim elders pretended to be peacemakers, but to no avail. He added, "The Muslims with their hammers and spare pipes were demolishing also the walls of the ground floor, leaving nothing standing."
According to AINA, the village mayor and Muslim elders made excuses for not honoring their agreement of leaving the ground floor intact by blaming the "unreasonable actions" of the youth.
AINA said security authorities arrived after the building was demolished.
AINA said a number of village Copts, together with priests from St. George's Church, went to the police station to file a report. No Muslim was arrested.
"Although we recognized the village youth who participated in the demolition work we could not name any of them," AINA reported a Christian resident said.
The individual added, "We are a minority in the village and we do not want to have problems, because we fear for the safety of our children. We go away to work in Cairo leaving our families behind in the village. I believe that as Copts, we are destined to be always persecuted."
According to Shukry, AINA said, the Copts are staying indoors, afraid to get into any confrontation which might lead to other attacks on their homes and businesses.
Shukry said, "This incident will end like all other similar incidents. No one will be arrested and the building will never be rebuilt."
AINA said Shukry believes the Copts should stand firm and insist on rebuilding this demolished services building, "otherwise it will be a green light to repeat this incident in the neighboring villages."
AINA said in 2007 in the village of Roda in Tamia, Muslims demolished the fence of the Protestant church. Security initiated a "reconciliation" meeting. Officials promised to rebuild the fence at their own expense, and the perpetrators were released. However, the fence has still not been rebuilt.
For more information about the Assyrian International News Agency, go to www.aina.org